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World population

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High, medium, and low projections of the future human world population

In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living, and was estimated to have reached 7,800,000,000 people as of March 2020.[1][2] It took over 2 million years of human prehistory and history for the world's population to reach 1 billion[3] and only 200 years more to grow to 7 billion.[4]

The world population has experienced continuous growth following the Great Famine of 1315–1317 and the end of the Black Death in 1350, when it was near 370 million.[5] The highest global population growth rates, with increases of over 1.8% per year, occurred between 1955 and 1975 – peaking at 2.1% between 1965 and 1970.[6] The growth rate declined to 1.2% between 2010 and 2015 and is projected to decline further in the course of the 21st century.[6] The global population is still increasing, but there is significant uncertainty about its long-term trajectory due to changing rates of fertility and mortality.[7] The UN Department of Economics and Social Affairs projects between 9–10 billion people by 2050, and gives an 80% confidence interval of 10–12 billion by the end of the 21st century.[8] Other demographers predict that world population will begin to decline in the second half of the 21st century.[9] A popular estimate for the sustainable population of earth is 8 billion people as of 2012.[citation needed] With the world population at 7.8 billion people as of March 2020 and typical projections of population growth, Earth will be in a state of human overpopulation by 2050 or sooner.

Birth rates were highest in the late 1980s at about 139 million,[10] and as of 2011 were expected to remain essentially constant at a level of 135 million,[11] while the mortality rate numbered 56 million per year and were expected to increase to 80 million per year by 2040.[12] The median age of the world's population was estimated to be 30.4 years in 2018.[13]

Population by region

World population (millions, UN estimates)[14]
# Top ten most populous countries 2000 2015 2030[A]
1 China China[B] 1,270 1,376 1,416
2 India India 1,053 1,311 1,528
3 United States United States 283 322 356
4 Indonesia Indonesia 212 258 295
5 Pakistan Pakistan 136 208 245
6 Brazil Brazil 176 206 228
7 Nigeria Nigeria 123 182 263
8 Bangladesh Bangladesh 131 161 186
9 Russia Russia 146 146 149
10 Mexico Mexico 103 127 148
World total 6,127 7,349 8,501
Notes:
  1. ^ 2030 = Medium variant.
  2. ^ China excludes Hong Kong and Macau.

Six of the Earth's seven continents are permanently inhabited on a large scale. Asia is the most populous continent, with its 4.64 billion inhabitants accounting for 60% of the world population. The world's two most populated countries, China and India, together constitute about 36% of the world's population. Africa is the second most populated continent, with around 1.34 billion people, or 17% of the world's population. Europe's 747 million people make up 10% of the world's population as of 2020, while the Latin American and Caribbean regions are home to around 653 million (8%). North America, primarily consisting of the United States and Canada, has a population of around 368 million (5%), and Oceania, the least populated region, has about 42 million inhabitants (0.5%).[15] Antarctica only has a very small, fluctuating population of about 1200 people based mainly in polar science stations.[16]

Population by continent

Population by continent (2020 estimates)
Continent Density
(inhabitants/km2)
Population
(millions)
Most populous country Most populous city (metropolitan area)
Asia 104.1 4,641 1,439,323,000[note 1] China 37,393,000/13,929,000 – Japan Greater Tokyo Area/Tokyo Metropolis
Africa 44.4 1,340 0206,139,000 –  Nigeria 20,900,000 – Egypt Cairo[17]
Europe 73.4 747 0145,934,000 –  Russia;
approx. 110 million in Europe
16,855,000/12,537,000 – Russia Moscow metropolitan area/Moscow[18]
Latin America 24.1 653 0212,559,000 –  Brazil 22,043,000/12,176,000 – Brazil São Paulo Metro Area/São Paulo City
Northern America[note 2] 14.9 368 0331,002,000 –  United States 23,724,000/8,323,000 – United States New York metropolitan area/New York City
Oceania 5 42 0025,499,000 –  Australia 4,925,000 – Australia Sydney
Antarctica ~0 0.004[16] N/A[note 3] 1,258 – McMurdo Station

History

Estimates of world population by their nature are an aspect of modernity, possible only since the Age of Discovery. Early estimates for the population of the world[19] date to the 17th century: William Petty in 1682 estimated world population at 320 million (modern estimates ranging close to twice this number); by the late 18th century, estimates ranged close to one billion (consistent with modern estimates).[20] More refined estimates, broken down by continents, were published in the first half of the 19th century, at 600 million to 1 billion in the early 1800s and at 800 million to 1 billion in the 1840s.[21]

It is difficult for estimates to be better than rough approximations, as even modern population estimates are fraught with uncertainties on the order of 3% to 5%.[22]

Ancient and post-classical history

Estimates of the population of the world at the time agriculture emerged in around 10,000 BC have ranged between 1 million and 15 million.[23][24] Even earlier, genetic evidence suggests humans may have gone through a population bottleneck of between 1,000 and 10,000 people about 70,000 BC, according to the Toba catastrophe theory. By contrast, it is estimated that around 50–60 million people lived in the combined eastern and western Roman Empire in the 4th century AD.[25]

The Plague of Justinian, which first emerged during the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian, caused Europe's population to drop by around 50% between the 6th and 8th centuries AD.[26] The population of Europe was more than 70 million in 1340.[27] The Black Death pandemic of the 14th century may have reduced the world's population from an estimated 450 million in 1340 to between 350 and 375 million in 1400;[28] it took 200 years for population figures to recover.[29] The population of China decreased from 123 million in 1200 to 65 million in 1393,[30] presumably from a combination of Mongol invasions, famine, and plague.[31]

Starting in AD 2, the Han Dynasty of ancient China kept consistent family registers in order to properly assess the poll taxes and labor service duties of each household.[32] In that year, the population of Western Han was recorded as 57,671,400 individuals in 12,366,470 households, decreasing to 47,566,772 individuals in 9,348,227 households by AD 146, towards the End of the Han Dynasty.[32] At the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368, China's population was reported to be close to 60 million; toward the end of the dynasty in 1644, it may have approached 150 million.[33] England's population reached an estimated 5.6 million in 1650, up from an estimated 2.6 million in 1500.[34] New crops that were brought to Asia and Europe from the Americas by Portuguese and Spanish colonists in the 16th century are believed to have contributed to population growth.[35][36][37] Since their introduction to Africa by Portuguese traders in the 16th century,[38] maize and cassava have similarly replaced traditional African crops as the most important staple food crops grown on the continent.[39]

The pre-Columbian population of the Americas is uncertain; historian David Henige called it "the most unanswerable question in the world."[40] By the end of the 20th century, scholarly consensus favored an estimate of roughly 55 million people, but numbers from various sources have ranged from 10 million to 100 million.[41] Encounters between European explorers and populations in the rest of the world often introduced local epidemics of extraordinary virulence.[42] According to the most extreme scholarly claims, as many as 90% of the Native American population of the New World died of Old World diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza.[43] Over the centuries, the Europeans had developed high degrees of immunity to these diseases, while the indigenous peoples had no such immunity.[44]

Modern history

Map showing urban areas with at least one million inhabitants in 2006. Only 3% of the world's population lived in urban areas in 1800; this proportion had risen to 47% by 2000, and reached 50.5% by 2010.[45] By 2050, the proportion may reach 70%.[46]

During the European Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, the life expectancy of children increased dramatically.[47] The percentage of the children born in London who died before the age of five decreased from 74.5% in 1730–1749 to 31.8% in 1810–1829.[48][49] Between 1700 and 1900, Europe's population increased from about 100 million to over 400 million.[50] Altogether, the areas populated by people of European descent comprised 36% of the world's population in 1900.[51]

Population growth in the West became more rapid after the introduction of vaccination and other improvements in medicine and sanitation.[52] Improved material conditions led to the population of Britain increasing from 10 million to 40 million in the 19th century.[53] The population of the United Kingdom reached 60 million in 2006.[54] The United States saw its population grow from around 5.3 million in 1800 to 106 million in 1920, exceeding 307 million in 2010.[55]

The first half of the 20th century in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union was marked by a succession of major wars, famines and other disasters which caused large-scale population losses (approximately 60 million excess deaths).[56][57] After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's population declined significantly – from 150 million in 1991 to 143 million in 2012[58] – but by 2013 this decline appeared to have halted.[59]

Many countries in the developing world have experienced extremely rapid population growth since the early 20th century, due to economic development and improvements in public health. China's population rose from approximately 430 million in 1850 to 580 million in 1953,[60] and now stands at over 1.3 billion. The population of the Indian subcontinent, which was about 125 million in 1750, increased to 389 million in 1941;[61] today, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are collectively home to about 1.63 billion people.[62] Java had about 5 million inhabitants in 1815; its present-day successor, Indonesia, now has a population of over 140 million.[63] In just one hundred years, the population of Brazil decupled (x10), from about 17 million in 1900, or about 1% of the world population in that year, to about 176 million in 2000, or almost 3% of the global population in the very early 21st century. Mexico's population grew from 13.6 million in 1900 to about 112 million in 2010.[64][65] Between the 1920s and 2000s, Kenya's population grew from 2.9 million to 37 million.[66]

Milestones by the billions

World population milestones in billions (Worldometers estimates)
Population 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Year 1804 1927 1960 1974 1987 1999 2011 2023 2037 2056
Years elapsed 123 33 14 13 12 12 12 14 19

It is estimated that the world population reached one billion for the first time in 1804. It was another 123 years before it reached two billion in 1927, but it took only 33 years to reach three billion in 1960.[67] Thereafter, the global population reached four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, six billion in 1999 and, according to the United States Census Bureau, seven billion in March 2012.[68] The United Nations, however, estimated that the world population reached seven billion in October 2011.[69][70][71]

According to current projections, the global population will reach eight billion by 2024, and is likely to reach around nine billion by 2042. Alternative scenarios for 2050 range from a low of 7.4 billion to a high of more than 10.6 billion.[72] Projected figures vary depending on underlying statistical assumptions and the variables used in projection calculations, especially the fertility variable. Long-range predictions to 2150 range from a population decline to 3.2 billion in the "low scenario", to "high scenarios" of 24.8 billion.[72] One extreme scenario predicted a massive increase to 256 billion by 2150, assuming the global fertility rate remained at its 1995 level of 3.04 children per woman; however, by 2010 the global fertility rate had declined to 2.52.[73][74]

There is no estimation for the exact day or month the world's population surpassed one or two billion. The points at which it reached three and four billion were not officially noted, but the International Database of the United States Census Bureau placed them in July 1959 and April 1974 respectively. The United Nations did determine, and commemorate, the "Day of 5 Billion" on 11 July 1987, and the "Day of 6 Billion" on 12 October 1999. The Population Division of the United Nations declared the "Day of 7 Billion" to be 31 October 2011.[75][needs update]

Global demographics

  >80
  77.5–80
  75–77.5
  72.5–75
  70–72.5
  67.5–70
  65–67.5
  60–65
  55–60
  50–55
2015 map showing average life expectancy by country in years. In 2015, the World Health Organization estimated the average global life expectancy as 71.4 years.[76]

As of 2012, the global sex ratio is approximately 1.01 males to 1 female. The greater number of men is possibly due to the significant sex imbalances evident in the Indian and Chinese populations.[77][78] Approximately 26.3% of the global population is aged under 15, while 65.9% is aged 15–64 and 7.9% is aged 65 or over.[77] The median age of the world's population was estimated to be 29.7 years in 2014,[79] and is expected to rise to 37.9 years by 2050.[80]

According to the World Health Organization, the global average life expectancy is 71.4 years as of 2015, with women living an average of 74 years and men approximately 69 years.[76] In 2010, the global fertility rate was estimated at 2.52 children per woman.[74] In June 2012, British researchers calculated the total weight of Earth's human population as approximately 287 million tonnes, with the average person weighing around 62 kilograms (137 lb).[81]

The CIA estimated nominal 2013 gross world product at US$74.31 trillion, giving an annual global per capita figure of around US$10,500.[82] Around 1.29 billion people (18.4% of the world population) live in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than US$1.25 per day;[83] approximately 870 million people (12.3%) are undernourished.[84] 83% of the world's over-15s are considered literate.[77] In June 2014, there were around 3.03 billion global Internet users, constituting 42.3% of the world population.[85]

The Han Chinese are the world's largest single ethnic group, constituting over 19% of the global population in 2011.[86] The world's most-spoken first languages are Mandarin Chinese (spoken by 12.4% of the world's population), Spanish (4.9%), English (4.8%), Arabic (3.3%) and Hindi (2.7%).[77] The world's largest religion is Christianity, whose adherents account for 31.4% of the global population;[87] Islam is the second-largest religion, accounting for 24.1%, and Hinduism the third, accounting for 13.8%.[77] In 2005, around 16% of the global population were reported to be non-religious.[88]

Largest populations by country

A map of world population in 2019
Countries population graph.jpeg

10 most populous countries

Rank Country Population % of world Date Source
(official or UN)
1  China 1,410,335,600 17.8% 26 Oct 2021 National population clock[89]
2  India 1,383,565,156 17.5% 26 Oct 2021 National population clock[90]
3  United States 332,599,051 4.21% 26 Oct 2021 National population clock[91]
4  Indonesia 269,603,400 3.41% 1 Jul 2020 National annual projection[92]
5  Pakistan 220,892,331 2.79% 1 Jul 2020 UN Projection[93]
6  Brazil 213,860,949 2.71% 26 Oct 2021 National population clock[94]
7  Nigeria 206,139,587 2.61% 1 Jul 2020 UN Projection[93]
8  Bangladesh 171,589,992 2.17% 26 Oct 2021 National population clock[95]
9  Russia 146,748,590 1.86% 1 Jan 2020 National annual estimate[96]
10  Mexico 127,792,286 1.62% 1 Jul 2020 National annual projection[97]

Approximately 4.45 billion people live in these ten countries, representing around 57% of the world's population as of September 2020.

Most densely populated countries

The tables below list the world's most densely populated countries, both in absolute terms and in comparison to their total populations.

Population density (people per km2) map of the world in 1994. Purple and pink areas denote regions of highest population density.
10 most densely populated countries (with population above 5 million)
Rank Country Population Area
(km2)
Density
(pop/km2)
1  Singapore 5,704,000 710 8,033
2  Bangladesh 171,590,000 143,998 1,192
3  Lebanon 6,856,000 10,452 656
4  Taiwan 23,604,000 36,193 652
5  South Korea 51,781,000 99,538 520
6  Rwanda 12,374,000 26,338 470
7  Haiti 11,578,000 27,065 428
8  Netherlands 17,650,000 41,526 425
9  Israel 9,420,000 22,072 427
10  India 1,383,570,000 3,287,240 421
Countries ranking highly in both total population (more than 20 million people) and population density (more than 250 people per square kilometer):
Rank Country Population Area
(km2)
Density
(pop/km2)
Population trend
1  India 1,383,570,000 3,287,240 421 Growing
2  Pakistan 225,440,000 803,940 280 Rapidly growing
3  Bangladesh 171,590,000 143,998 1,192 Rapidly growing
4  Japan 126,010,000 377,873 333 Declining[98]
5  Philippines 111,010,000 300,000 370 Growing
6  Vietnam 96,209,000 331,689 290 Growing
7  United Kingdom 66,436,000 243,610 273 Growing
8  South Korea 51,781,000 99,538 520 Steady
9  Taiwan 23,604,000 36,193 652 Steady
10  Sri Lanka 21,803,000 65,610 332 Growing

Fluctuation

Estimates of population evolution in different continents between 1950 and 2050, according to the United Nations. The vertical axis is logarithmic and is in millions of people.

Population size fluctuates at differing rates in differing regions. Nonetheless, population growth is the long-standing trend on all inhabited continents, as well as in most individual states. During the 20th century, the global population saw its greatest increase in known history, rising from about 1.6 billion in 1900 to over 6 billion in 2000. A number of factors contributed to this increase, including the lessening of the mortality rate in many countries by improved sanitation and medical advances, and a massive increase in agricultural productivity attributed to the Green Revolution.[99][100][101]

In 2000, the United Nations estimated that the world's population was growing at an annual rate of 1.1% (equivalent to around 75 million people),[102] down from a peak of 88 million per year in 1989. By 2000, there were approximately ten times as many people on Earth as there had been in 1700. Globally, the population growth rate has been steadily declining from its peak of 2.2% in 1963, but growth remains high in Latin America, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa.[103]

Map of countries by fertility rate (2020), according to the Population Reference Bureau

During the 2010s, Japan and some countries in Europe began to encounter negative population growth (i.e. a net decrease in population over time), due to sub-replacement fertility rates.[98]

In 2006, the United Nations stated that the rate of population growth was visibly diminishing due to the ongoing global demographic transition. If this trend continues, the rate of growth may diminish to zero by 2050, concurrent with a world population plateau of 9.2 billion.[104] However, this is only one of many estimates published by the UN; in 2009, UN population projections for 2050 ranged between around 8 billion and 10.5 billion.[105] An alternative scenario is given by the statistician Jorgen Randers, who argues that traditional projections insufficiently take into account the downward impact of global urbanization on fertility. Randers' "most likely scenario" reveals a peak in the world population in the early 2040s at about 8.1 billion people, followed by decline.[106] Adrian Raftery, a University of Washington professor of statistics and of sociology, states that "there’s a 70 percent probability the world population will not stabilize this century. Population, which had sort of fallen off the world’s agenda, remains a very important issue."[107]

Annual population growth

Global annual population growth[108]
Year Population Yearly growth Density
(pop/km2)
Urban population
% Number Number %
1951 2,584,034,261 1.88% 47,603,112 17 775,067,697 30%
1952 2,630,861,562 1.81% 46,827,301 18 799,282,533 30%
1953 2,677,608,960 1.78% 46,747,398 18 824,289,989 31%
1954 2,724,846,741 1.76% 47,237,781 18 850,179,106 31%
1955 2,773,019,936 1.77% 48,173,195 19 877,008,842 32%
1956 2,822,443,282 1.78% 49,423,346 19 904,685,164 32%
1957 2,873,306,090 1.80% 50,862,808 19 933,113,168 32%
1958 2,925,686,705 1.82% 52,380,615 20 962,537,113 33%
1959 2,979,576,185 1.84% 53,889,480 20 992,820,546 33%
1960 3,034,949,748 1.86% 55,373,563 20 1,023,845,517 34%
1961 3,091,843,507 1.87% 56,893,759 21 1,055,435,648 34%
1962 3,150,420,795 1.89% 58,577,288 21 1,088,376,703 35%
1963 3,211,001,009 1.92% 60,580,214 22 1,122,561,940 35%
1964 3,273,978,338 1.96% 62,977,329 22 1,157,813,355 35%
1965 3,339,583,597 2.00% 65,605,259 22 1,188,469,224 36%
1966 3,407,922,630 2.05% 68,339,033 23 1,219,993,032 36%
1967 3,478,769,962 2.08% 70,847,332 23 1,252,566,565 36%
1968 3,551,599,127 2.09% 72,829,165 24 1,285,933,432 36%
1969 3,625,680,627 2.09% 74,081,500 24 1,319,833,474 36%
1970 3,700,437,046 2.06% 74,756,419 25 1,354,215,496 37%
1971 3,775,759,617 2.04% 75,322,571 25 1,388,834,099 37%
1972 3,851,650,245 2.01% 75,890,628 26 1,424,734,781 37%
1973 3,927,780,238 1.98% 76,129,993 26 1,462,178,370 37%
1974 4,003,794,172 1.94% 76,013,934 27 1,501,134,655 37%
1975 4,079,480,606 1.89% 75,686,434 27 1,538,624,994 38%
1976 4,154,666,864 1.84% 75,186,258 28 1,577,376,141 38%
1977 4,229,506,060 1.80% 74,839,196 28 1,616,419,308 38%
1978 4,304,533,501 1.77% 75,027,441 29 1,659,306,117 39%
1979 4,380,506,100 1.76% 75,972,599 29 1,706,021,638 39%
1980 4,458,003,514 1.77% 77,497,414 30 1,754,201,029 39%
1981 4,536,996,762 1.77% 78,993,248 30 1,804,215,203 40%
1982 4,617,386,542 1.77% 80,389,780 31 1,854,134,229 40%
1983 4,699,569,304 1.78% 82,182,762 32 1,903,822,436 41%
1984 4,784,011,621 1.80% 84,442,317 32 1,955,106,433 41%
1985 4,870,921,740 1.82% 86,910,119 33 2,007,939,063 41%
1986 4,960,567,912 1.84% 89,646,172 33 2,062,604,394 42%
1987 5,052,522,147 1.85% 91,954,235 34 2,118,882,551 42%
1988 5,145,426,008 1.84% 92,903,861 35 2,176,126,537 42%
1989 5,237,441,558 1.79% 92,015,550 35 2,233,140,502 43%
1990 5,327,231,061 1.71% 89,789,503 36 2,290,228,096 43%
1991 5,414,289,444 1.63% 87,058,383 36 2,347,462,336 43%
1992 5,498,919,809 1.56% 84,630,365 37 2,404,337,297 44%
1993 5,581,597,546 1.50% 82,677,737 37 2,461,223,528 44%
1994 5,663,150,427 1.46% 81,552,881 38 2,518,254,111 44%
1995 5,744,212,979 1.43% 81,062,552 39 2,575,505,235 45%
1996 5,824,891,951 1.40% 80,678,972 39 2,632,941,583 45%
1997 5,905,045,788 1.38% 80,153,837 40 2,690,813,541 46%
1998 5,984,793,942 1.35% 79,748,154 40 2,749,213,598 46%
1999 6,064,239,055 1.33% 79,445,113 41 2,808,231,655 46%
2000 6,143,494,000 1.31% 79,255,000 41 2,868,308,000 46%
2001 6,222,627,000 1.29% 79,133,000 42 2,933,079,000 47%
2002 6,301,773,000 1.27% 79,147,000 42 3,001,808,000 47%
2003 6,381,185,000 1.26% 79,412,000 43 3,071,744,000 48%
2004 6,461,159,000 1.25% 79,974,000 43 3,143,045,000 48%
2005 6,541,907,000 1.25% 80,748,000 44 3,215,906,000 49%
2006 6,623,518,000 1.25% 81,611,000 44 3,289,446,000 50%
2007 6,705,947,000 1.24% 82,429,000 45 3,363,610,000 50%
2008 6,789,089,000 1.24% 83,142,000 46 3,439,719,000 50%
2009 6,872,767,000 1.23% 83,678,000 47 3,516,830,000 51%
2010 6,956,824,000 1.22% 84,057,000 47 3,594,868,000 51%
2011 7,041,194,000 1.21% 84,371,000 47 3,671,424,000 52%
2012 7,125,828,000 1.20% 84,634,000 48 3,747,843,000 52%
2013 7,210,582,000 1.19% 84,754,000 48 3,824,990,000 53%
2014 7,295,291,000 1.17% 84,709,000 49 3,902,832,000 53%
2015 7,379,797,000 1.16% 84,506,000 50 3,981,498,000 54%
2016 7,464,022,000 1.14% 84,225,000 50 4,060,653,000 54%
2017 7,547,859,000 1.12% 83,837,000 51 4,140,189,000 55%
2018 7,631,091,000 1.10% 83,232,000 51 4,219,817,000 55%
2019 7,713,468,000 1.08% 82,377,000 52 4,299,439,000 56%
2020 7,795,000,000 1.05% 81,331,000 52 4,378,900,000 56%

Population growth by region

The table below shows historical and predicted regional population figures in millions.[109][110][111] The availability of historical population figures varies by region.

World historical and predicted populations (in millions)[112][113][114]
Region 1500 1600 1700 1750 1800 1850 1900 1950 1999 2008 2010 2012 2050 2150
World 585 660 710 791 978 1,262 1,650 2,521 6,008 6,707 6,896 7,052 9,725 9,746
Africa 86 114 106 106 107 111 133 221 783 973 1,022 1,052 2,478 2,308
Asia 282 350 411 502 635 809 947 1,402 3,700 4,054 4,164 4,250 5,267 5,561
Europe 168 170 178 190 203 276 408 547 675 732 738 740 734 517
Latin America[Note 1] 40 20 10 16 24 38 74 167 508 577 590 603 784 912
Northern America[Note 1] 6 3 2 2 7 26 82 172 312 337 345 351 433 398
Oceania 3 3 3 2 2 2 6 13 30 34 37 38 57 51
World historical and predicted populations by percentage distribution[112][113]
Region 1500 1600 1700 1750 1800 1850 1900 1950 1999 2008 2010 2012 2050 2150
Africa 14.7 17.3 14.9 13.4 10.9 8.8 8.1 8.8 13.0 14.5 14.8 15.2 25.5 23.7
Asia 48.2 53.0 57.9 63.5 64.9 64.1 57.4 55.6 61.6 60.4 60.4 60.3 54.2 57.1
Europe 28.7 25.8 25.1 20.6 20.8 21.9 24.7 21.7 11.2 10.9 10.7 10.5 7.6 5.3
Latin America[Note 1] 6.8 3.0 1.4 2.0 2.5 3.0 4.5 6.6 8.5 8.6 8.6 8.6 8.1 9.4
Northern America[Note 1] 1.0 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.7 2.1 5.0 6.8 5.2 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.5 4.1
Oceania 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.5

Past population

The following table gives estimates, in millions, of population in the past. The data for 1750 to 1900 are from the UN report "The World at Six Billion"[115] whereas the data from 1950 to 2015 are from a UN data sheet.[14]

Year World Africa Asia Europe Latin America
& Carib.[Note 1]
North America
[Note 1]
Oceania Notes
70,000 BC < 0.015 0 0 [116]
10,000 BC 4 [117]
8000 BC 5
6500 BC 5
5000 BC 5
4000 BC 7
3000 BC 14
2000 BC 27
1000 BC 50 7 33 9 [citation needed]
500 BC 100 14 66 16
AD 1 200 23 141 28
1000 400 70 269 50 8 1 2
1500 458 86 243 84 39 3 3
1600 580 114 339 111 10 3 3
1700 682 106 436 125 10 2 3
1750 791 106 502 163 16 2 2
1800 1,000 107 656 203 24 7 3
1850 1,262 111 809 276 38 26 2
1900 1,650 133 947 408 74 82 6
1950 2,525 229 1,394 549 169 172 12.7 [118]
1955 2,758 254 1,534 577 193 187 14.2
1960 3,018 285 1,687 606 221 204 15.8
1965 3,322 322 1,875 635 254 219 17.5
1970 3,682 366 2,120 657 288 231 19.7
1975 4,061 416 2,378 677 326 242 21.5
1980 4,440 478 2,626 694 365 254 23.0
1985 4,853 550 2,897 708 406 267 24.9
1990 5,310 632 3,202 721 447 281 27.0
1995 5,735 720 3,475 728 487 296 29.1
2000 6,127 814 3,714 726 527 314 31.1
2005 6,520 920 3,945 729 564 329 33.4
2010 6,930 1,044 4,170 735 600 344 36.4
2015 7,349 1,186 4,393 738 634 358 39.3

Using the above figures, the change in population from 2010 to 2015 was:

  • World: +420 million
  • Africa: +142 million
  • Asia: +223 million
  • Europe: +3 million
  • Latin America and Caribbean: +35 million
  • Northern America: +14 million
  • Oceania: +2.9 million
  1. ^ a b c d e f North America is here defined to include the northernmost countries and territories of North America: Canada, the United States, Greenland, Bermuda, and St. Pierre and Miquelon. Latin America & Carib. comprises Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.

Projections

Long-term global population growth is difficult to predict. The United Nations and the US Census Bureau both give different estimates – according to the UN, the world population reached seven billion in late 2011,[109] while the USCB asserted that this occurred in March 2012.[119] The UN has issued multiple projections of future world population, based on different assumptions. From 2000 to 2005, the UN consistently revised these projections downward, until the 2006 revision, issued on 14 March 2007, revised the 2050 mid-range estimate upwards by 273 million.

Average global birth rates are declining fast, but vary greatly between developed countries (where birth rates are often at or below replacement levels) and developing countries (where birth rates typically remain high). Different ethnicities also display varying birth rates. Death rates can change rapidly due to disease epidemics, wars and other mass catastrophes, or advances in medicine.

2012 United Nations projections show a continued increase in population in the near future with a steady decline in population growth rate; the global population is expected to reach between 8.3 and 10.9 billion by 2050.[120][121] 2003 UN Population Division population projections for the year 2150 range between 3.2 and 24.8 billion.[73] One of many independent mathematical models supports the lower estimate,[122] while a 2014 estimate forecasts between 9.3 and 12.6 billion in 2100, and continued growth thereafter.[123][124] The 2019 Revision of the UN estimates gives the "medium variant" population as; nearly 8.6 billion in 2030, about 9.7 billion in 2050 and about 10.9 billion in 2100.[125] In December 2019, the German Foundation for World Population projected that the global population will reach 8 billion by 2023 as it increases by 156 every minute.[126] In a modelled future projection by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation the global population was projected to peak in 2064 at 9.73 billion people and decline to 8.79 billion in 2100.[127] Some analysts have questioned the sustainability of further world population growth, highlighting the growing pressures on the environment,[128] global food supplies, and energy resources.[129][130][131]

UN (medium variant – 2019 revision) and US Census Bureau (June 2015) estimates[132][133]
Year UN est.
(millions)
Difference USCB est.
(millions)
Difference
2005 6,542 6,473
2010 6,957 415 6,866 393
2015 7,380 423 7,256 390
2020 7,795 415 7,643 380
2025 8,184 390 8,007 363
2030 8,549 364 8,341 334
2035 8,888 339 8,646 306
2040 9,199 311 8,926 280
2045 9,482 283 9,180 254
2050 9,735 253 9,408 228
UN 2019 estimates and medium variant projections (in millions)[132]
Year World Asia Africa Europe Latin America/Caribbean Northern America Oceania
2000 6,144 3,741 (60.9%) 811 (13.2%) 726 (11.8%) 522 (8.5%) 312 (5.1%) 31 (0.5%)
2005 6,542 3,978 (60.8%) 916 (14.0%) 729 (11.2%) 558 (8.5%) 327 (5.0%) 34 (0.5%)
2010 6,957 4,210 (60.5%) 1,039 (14.9%) 736 (10.6%) 591 (8.5%) 343 (4.9%) 37 (0.5%)
2015 7,380 4,434 (60.1%) 1,182 (16.0%) 743 (10.1%) 624 (8.5%) 357 (4.8%) 40 (0.5%)
2020 7,795 4,641 (59.5%) 1,341 (17.2%) 748 (9.6%) 654 (8.4%) 369 (4.7%) 43 (0.6%)
2025 8,184 4,823 (58.9%) 1,509 (18.4%) 746 (9.1%) 682 (8.3%) 380 (4.6%) 45 (0.6%)
2030 8,549 4,974 (58.2%) 1,688 (19.8%) 741 (8.7%) 706 (8.3%) 391 (4.6%) 48 (0.6%)
2035 8,888 5,096 (57.3%) 1,878 (21.1%) 735 (8.3%) 726 (8.2%) 401 (4.5%) 50 (0.6%)
2040 9,199 5,189 (56.4%) 2,077 (22.6%) 728 (7.9%) 742 (8.1%) 410 (4.5%) 53 (0.6%)
2045 9,482 5,253 (55.4%) 2,282 (24.1%) 720 (7.6%) 754 (8.0%) 418 (4.4%) 55 (0.6%)
2050 9,735 5,290 (54.3%) 2,489 (25.6%) 711 (7.3%) 762 (7.8%) 425 (4.4%) 57 (0.6%)
2055 9,958 5,302 (53.2%) 2,698 (27.1%) 700 (7.0%) 767 (7.7%) 432 (4.3%) 60 (0.6%)
2060 10,152 5,289 (52.1%) 2,905 (28.6%) 689 (6.8%) 768 (7.6%) 439 (4.3%) 62 (0.6%)
2065 10,318 5,256 (51.0%) 3,109 (30.1%) 677 (6.6%) 765 (7.4%) 447 (4.3%) 64 (0.6%)
2070 10,459 5,207 (49.8%) 3,308 (31.6%) 667 (6.4%) 759 (7.3%) 454 (4.3%) 66 (0.6%)
2075 10,577 5,143 (48.6%) 3,499 (33.1%) 657 (6.2%) 750 (7.1%) 461 (4.4%) 67 (0.6%)
2080 10,674 5,068 (47.5%) 3,681 (34.5%) 650 (6.1%) 739 (6.9%) 468 (4.4%) 69 (0.7%)
2085 10,750 4,987 (46.4%) 3,851 (35.8%) 643 (6.0%) 726 (6.8%) 474 (4.4%) 71 (0.7%)
2090 10,810 4,901 (45.3%) 4,008 (37.1%) 638 (5.9%) 711 (6.6%) 479 (4.4%) 72 (0.7%)
2095 10,852 4,812 (44.3%) 4,152 (38.3%) 634 (5.8%) 696 (6.4%) 485 (4.5%) 74 (0.7%)
2100 10,875 4,719 (43.4%) 4,280 (39.4%) 630 (5.8%) 680 (6.3%) 491 (4.5%) 75 (0.7%)

Mathematical approximations

In 1975, Sebastian von Hoerner proposed a formula for population growth which represented hyperbolic growth with an infinite population in 2025.[134] The hyperbolic growth of the world population observed until the 1970s was later correlated to a non-linear second order positive feedback between demographic growth and technological development. This feedback can be described as follows: technological advance → increase in the carrying capacity of land for people → demographic growth → more people → more potential inventors → acceleration of technological advance → accelerating growth of the carrying capacity → faster population growth → accelerating growth of the number of potential inventors → faster technological advance → hence, the faster growth of the Earth's carrying capacity for people, and so on.[135] The transition from hyperbolic growth to slower rates of growth is related to the demographic transition.

According to the Russian demographer Sergey Kapitsa,[136] the world population grew between 67,000 BC and 1965 according to the following formula:

where

  • N is current population
  • T is the current year
  • C = (1.86±0.01)·1011
  • T0 = 2007±1
  • = 42±1

Years for world population to double

According to linear interpolation and extrapolation of UNDESA population estimates, the world population has doubled, or will double, in the years listed in the tables below (with two different starting points). During the 2nd millennium, each doubling took roughly half as long as the previous doubling, fitting the hyperbolic growth model mentioned above. However, after 2024, it is unlikely that there will be another doubling of the global population in the 21st century.[137]

Historic chart showing the periods of time the world population has taken to double, from 1700 to 2000
Starting at 500 million
Population
(in billions)
0.5 1 2 4 8
Year 1500 1804 1927 1974 2024
Years elapsed 304 123 47 50
Starting at 375 million
Population
(in billions)
0.375 0.75 1.5 3 6
Year 1171 1715 1881 1960 1999
Years elapsed 544 166 79 39

Number of humans who have ever lived

Estimates of the total number of humans who have ever lived range is estimated to be of the order of 100 billion. Such estimates can only be rough approximations; as even modern population estimates are subject to uncertainty of around 3% to 5%.[22] Kapitza (1996) cites estimates ranging between 80 and 150 billion.[138] Haub (1995) prepared another figure, updated in 2002 and 2011; the 2011 figure was approximately 107 billion.[139][140][141] Haub characterized this figure as an estimate that required "selecting population sizes for different points from antiquity to the present and applying assumed birth rates to each period".[140]

Robust population data only exist for the last two or three centuries. Until the late 18th century, few governments had ever performed an accurate census. In many early attempts, such as in Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire, the focus was on counting merely a subset of the population for purposes of taxation or military service.[142] Thus, there is a significant margin of error when estimating ancient global populations. Pre-modern infant mortality rates are another critical factor for such an estimate; these rates are very difficult to estimate for ancient times due to a lack of accurate records. Haub (1995) estimates that around 40% of those who have ever lived did not survive beyond their first birthday. Haub also stated that "life expectancy at birth probably averaged only about ten years for most of human history",[140] which is not to be mistaken for the life expectancy after reaching adulthood. The latter equally depended on period, location and social standing, but calculations identify averages from roughly 30 years upward.

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ Excluding its Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macau.
  2. ^ Excluding Central America and the Caribbean.
  3. ^ The Antarctic Treaty System limits the nature of national claims in Antarctica. Of the territorial claims in Antarctica, the Ross Dependency has the largest population.

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